The program was modest: create a high school entrance and two rooms for class councils. But the remarkable place: on the edge of a park with magnificent oak trees. With a reduced idiom - concrete slabs, galvanized steel, glass - the architects responded to the program, showcased the site and offered the pupils a welcoming place, a gentle walk to reach the class buildings and a discreet lesson on the art of composing with the landscape.
For this important school complex, it involved creating an identifiable entrance, installing a guardian's lodge to filter the comings and goings of 2,000 students, many of them motorized, and creating two meeting rooms for class councils.
The device adopted by the architects is simple: fitting into the orthogonal framework of the existing buildings, they install a long gallery dominated by horizontal planes. On the ground, a concrete platform: starting from the entrance square, due to the slope, it gradually detaches itself from the natural terrain.
Above, a corrugated iron roof, itself detached from the meeting rooms by two metal purlins which receive the joist.
Thus, the ground and the roof remain present and these two horizontal planes constitute a first order in which are placed the three independent elements responding to the program. The entrance lodge, a glass envelope attached to an existing transformer, and two other volumes, also fully glazed, placed on the concrete platform, housing the small and large meeting rooms. These three volumes organize the outdoor spaces: the entrance courtyard, the covered gallery and a central patio which serves the two meeting rooms and is set on a large oak tree; From the patio, a small gallery is born, made up of concrete landings that follow the pronounced slope of the land, while the cover tray runs horizontally. Alternating porticos balance this structure which extends the building and accompanies the movements of the pupils towards the large courtyard of the school located in the center of the composition.
Below, we become aware of a detail that is very important: the porticoes on which the roofing elements are sometimes placed and sometimes suspended, will seek their point of support far outwards. A very apt decision: the composition becomes more stable, the nervous planes of the covers seem to float even more in the air, the path from the entrance to the main courtyard is a defined, framed space. Complement the podium and the concrete plates: facing south, they provide a welcoming place for students who can sit with their backs to the meeting rooms.
More than a response to the program, the entire device is a response to the site. The separation of each component of the program, the clear autonomy given to each element of the construction - ground, roof, structure, envelopes - the generalized use of transparent glass, neutral materials - natural concrete, galvanized steel - compose a light architecture that contrasts with the robust architecture of the classroom buildings. An architecture that reveals, at the same time as it stages, a magnificent nature